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  • Writer's pictureAlba Macareno

The Power of Mother's Milk: The Advantages of Breastfeeding for Babies and Moms

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When I was pregnant, I didn't read much about breastfeeding, and I was content with the idea of both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding my daughter. However, when she was born, something within me changed, and I developed a strong desire to exclusively breastfeed her. Unfortunately, the beginning was far from easy. In this article, you can read about my personal story and discover the numerous benefits that breastfeeding offers to both infants and mothers.

It has been two years since I began breastfeeding my daughter, and I must admit that it hasn't always been a smooth journey. The initial phase was particularly challenging when a nurse at the hospital informed me that my milk supply wasn't sufficient to meet my child's hunger. She insisted on supplementing with formula, which led to my baby developing a preference for the bottle due to the ease of obtaining milk from it. Despite the difficulties, I persevered with breastfeeding because, in my opinion, it was the best choice for my child's well-being. Additionally, I resorted to pumping to enhance my milk supply. During the first three months of her life, I combined formula feeding with breastfeeding. However, I eventually decided to discontinue pumping as it became overwhelming for me. Instead, I focused on latching her as frequently as possible to prevent her from getting hungry and crying for immediate milk. This approach effectively boosted my milk supply, enabling me to exclusively breastfeed my daughter. Personally, the most challenging aspect was pumping and witnessing my milk supply was not enough. It made me feel uncomfortable to pump since the milk wasn't intended for my child.

In conclusion, my breastfeeding journey involved overcoming obstacles and embracing the numerous benefits it provided for both my infant and myself. The difficulties I faced in the beginning served as stepping stones toward establishing a successful breastfeeding routine. By sharing my experience, I hope to inspire and inform others about the realities and rewards of breastfeeding.

It is important to note that breastfeeding is a personal choice and each mother's circumstances and preferences may vary. A mother is not better if she breastfeeds or gives her child the bottle. Some mothers may face challenges with breastfeeding, and it is always recommended to seek support from healthcare professionals, lactation consultants, or support groups if needed.

Here are some of the key advantages of breastfeeding for the baby:

  1. Optimal nutrition: Breast milk is uniquely designed to meet the nutritional needs of infants. It contains a perfect balance of essential nutrients, antibodies, enzymes, hormones, and growth factors that promote healthy development and provide protection against various diseases.

  2. Immune system support: Breast milk is rich in antibodies and immune cells that help strengthen the baby's immune system, reducing the risk of infections, allergies, and certain chronic diseases. It provides vital protection during the early stages of life when the baby's immune system is still developing.

  3. Digestive health: Breast milk is easily digested by babies, as it contains enzymes that aid in digestion. Breastfed babies are less likely to experience issues such as constipation, diarrhoea, and stomach upset.

  4. Cognitive development: Breast milk contains essential fatty acids, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are crucial for the development of the baby's brain and nervous system. Studies have suggested that breastfed babies may have a slightly higher IQ and improved cognitive outcomes.

  5. Visual development: Breast milk is rich in nutrients and compounds that support the development of the baby's eyes. It contains high levels of vitamin A and other nutrients essential for visual health, potentially reducing the risk of certain eye conditions and promoting healthy vision.

  6. Reduced risk of diseases: Breastfeeding has been associated with a lower risk of various health conditions infants. Breastfed babies have a decreased risk of developing asthma, obesity, diabetes, allergies, eczema, respiratory infections, ear infections, and certain childhood cancers.

  7. Cost-effective and convenient: Breast milk is readily available, always at the right temperature, and requires no preparation or sterilisation. It eliminates the need for purchasing and preparing formula, bottles, and other feeding equipment, which can be costly and time-consuming.

  8. Emotional and psychological well-being: Breastfeeding fosters a strong bond between the mother and the baby. The physical closeness, skin-to-skin contact, and nurturing provided during breastfeeding promote feelings of security, comfort, and emotional well-being in the child.

  9. Proper jaw and dental development: Breastfeeding requires the baby to use facial muscles and coordinate tongue movements, promoting proper jaw and dental development. It can help prevent issues such as malocclusion and dental caries.

  10. Environmental sustainability: Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly, as it produces no waste, requires no packaging, and has a minimal carbon footprint compared to the production and disposal of formula containers.

Breastfeeding offers several benefits for mothers as well. Here are some advantages of breastfeeding for moms:

  1. Bonding and emotional connection: Breastfeeding promotes a strong emotional bond between the mother and the baby. The physical closeness, skin-to-skin contact, and eye contact during breastfeeding release hormones like oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone," which enhances feelings of affection and attachment.

  2. Postpartum recovery: Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin, which helps the uterus contract, reducing postpartum bleeding and aiding in the mother's recovery after childbirth. It can also help the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly.

  3. Weight loss: Breastfeeding burns extra calories, helping mothers losing pregnancy weight more effectively. The body uses stored fat reserves to produce breast milk, which can contribute to gradual and healthy weight loss.

  4. Reduced risk of certain diseases: Breastfeeding has been associated with a lower risk of certain diseases in mothers. Women who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis later in life. The longer a mother breastfeeds, the greater the protective effect.

  5. Convenient and cost-effective: Breast milk is always available, at the right temperature, and requires no preparation or sterilisation. Breastfeeding eliminates the need for purchasing and preparing formula, bottles, and other feeding equipment, which can save both time and money.

  6. Reduced risk of postpartum depression: Breastfeeding triggers the release of hormones like oxytocin and prolactin, which promote feelings of relaxation, well-being, and nurturing. These hormones can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression and anxiety in some mothers.

  7. Convenience during outings: Breastfeeding provides convenience when mothers are out and about with their babies. There is no need to carry bottles, formula, or worry about finding a clean and private place to prepare or warm up the feed. Breast milk is always available and ready to nourish the baby.

  8. Long-term health benefits: Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases later in life. Breastfeeding also improves overall maternal health and well-being.

As you can see, there are numerous benefits to breastfeeding for both the child and the mother. However, it's important to remember that the choice between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding does not determine your worth as a mother. Neither option makes you better or worse than the other. What truly matters is that you, as the mother, feel confident and content with your decision and provide your child with everything they need.

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